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Will Smith, Update on Response to ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Legislation, Highlights from Deadline Contenders TV 

Will Smith’s career and the impact since the 2022 Oscars, the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation in Florida is still a hot topic of conversation, and highlights from panels that took place at Deadline’s Contenders TV event. 

By Lauren Cali 
April 13, 2022

Will Smith: Who He Is and the 2022 Oscars

Will Smith first rose to stardom as a rapper, which landed him the starring role in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. His easy manner and loveable style quickly solidified his stature as Hollywood’s next big thing. Film roles quickly followed from major summer blockbusters to Oscar-worthy contenders.  His career spanning 30 years includes iconic roles such as Jay in Men in Black , Mike in Bad Boy s, and the Genie in the live-action Aladdin . His most recent role was Richard Williams in King Richard, for which he won the best actor Oscar.

At this year’s Oscars Will Smith slapped Chris Rock onstage after a comment was made about his wife. Jada Pinkett-Smith, who has alopecia, has always been open about her battle with her hair loss. 

The timeline of events regarding the altercation can be found below: 
  • March 27th: Will Smith slaps Chris Rock at the Oscars
  • April 1st: Will Smith resigns from the Academy 
  • April 8th: Official decision to have Will Smith banned for 10 years. More information can be found here

Will Smith’s response to the Academy’s decision was respectful. He said: 
 “I accept and respect the Academy’s decision.” 

Action-movie Director Michael Bay has stated he would work with Will Smith again- Variety reports. 

In my personal opinion, actions can be understood why someone did what they did if you know their story and history. I am currently reading Will’s memoir Will , and learning more about him. 

Update: Don’t Say Gay Legislation 

Disney continues to be at the forefront of Florida’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation. When the legislation was first passed, they didn’t take a position, which led to a lot of backlash from employees of the company. Now with a public stance against the bill, the company is still under fire from far-right conservatives and opponents of LGBTQ education - Deadline reports

Amongst those who have spoken up against the bill is Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Roy Disney. Abigail’s interview with CNN can be viewed here . This past weekend at the 2022 Outfest Fusion QTBIPOC Film Festival Gala, Stephanie Beatriz spoke up about the legislation, and said: 
“I understand that many people have issues with Disney, as well they should. But one of the things that I’m really proud of is that Walt Disney Animation set this film in Colombia, with a family that was all Colombians and Latinos, and all different races, because it’s really big to show children all over the world that Latinos don’t only look one way, they look all sorts of ways.”

More of Stephanie’s interview can be found here

Deadline Contenders TV Panel Highlights  

Deadline recently held a Contenders TV event with panels of acclaimed shows on television today. We’ve pulled some highlights.

  • Showrunner Gloria Calderón Kellett, creator of With Love, talked about the upcoming season 2 of the show, and its themes of diversity and representation. 

  • Amber Ruffin talked about her show The Amber Ruffin Show and her personal mission to de-gaslight America. 

  • Viola Davis, starring in The First Lady, discussed injecting cultural specificity into the show. 

  • Samuel L. Jackson and Walter Mosley talked about the Last Days Of Ptolemy Grey. 

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Lauren Cali writes the weekly entertainment industry news blog for She’s a Social Media Specialist and a graduate of Elmhurst College.